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Thursday, December 11, 2008

MLB Winter Meetings: Who's Dealing?

The Major League Baseball offseason is well underway by now, and we're just getting into the climax of the winter meetings. A couple of teams have been steady making deals while others are sitting back and watching the action from their chairs.

For one, the New York Yankees are dealing for starting pitching after Mike Mussina's retirement earlier in the offseason. Chien Ming-Wang has been surrounded by injuries the past year of two, so the Steinbremmers must think it's time to go all out. The Yanks have already pretty much wrapped the C.C. Sabathia deal up and put a bow on it for Christmas. But, they have reportedly offered A.J. Burnett a contract as well.

New York's inter-division rivals, the Baltimore Orioles, have also shown that they are ready to step their game up after dealing veteran catcher Ramon Hernandez to the Cincinnati Reds for OF Ryan Freel and two prospects. This shows that Peter Angelos is ready for the younger guys to step up. Getting rid of the 32-year old catcher makes room for the young AA-er, Matt Wieters, who was this past seasons Minor League Player of the Year winner. The 22-year old catcher, a two-time All-American at Georgia Tech, has a great mixture of power and average on both sides of the plate while his big frame (6 foot 5, 230 pounds) makes him an easy target behind the plate.

Believe it or not, this isn't the only move Baltimore has made this offseason. The front office is close to completing a two-year, $6 million deal with former Blue Jay, Dodger, Cub, Pirate and Cardinal shortstop Cesar Izturis. The O's have had major issues at the shortstop position since the end of the Miguel Tejada era. Izturis does not have much power, or even all that much consistency in his eight seasons, but he does have a great glove. That is what they are looking for as of this point. Just someone who can hold the spot and get the job done. Izturis' career fielding percentage (.979) is better than Tejada's MLB career and, like most middle infielders, Izturis has speed.

I'm still not done with the O's. Angelos also finds himself in the middle of the Mark Teixeira talks. He may actually be in the lead, as of right now. They have reportedly offered Teixeira a seven-year, $150 million contract. The O's, as a matter of fact, are also said to be one of the four remaining teams going after Teixeira. The other three teams; Angels, Nationals, Red Sox.

Jake Peavy is not packing for Chicago after all. The Chicago Cubs and San Diego Padres have called off the deal that would have sent the NL Cy Young winner, Peavy, to Chicago. The multi-player deal was reportedly called-off by Chicago GM Jim Hendry.

Of Saving Phil Hughes and Trading The Melk Man Anyway

Remember last year around this time: The Twins were shopping Johan Santana to the highest bidder and the Yankees and Red Sox appeared to be the prime contenders. Then the Mets swooped in and acquired Santana for a beavy of prospects and talent...and it still didn't get them into the playoffs.

Anyway, back in late 2007, the Yankees were unwilling to part with two of three pitching prospects: Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes and Ian (Mr.) Kennedy. The Yankees responded by declaring Chamberlain untradable (fair enough) and would only package Melky Cabrera, a lesser pitching prospect and either Kennedy or Hughes, but not both.

Apparently, there was a contingent of fans who did not want to see even Hughes traded. Yeah, click that link...there's a "Save Phil Hughes" site. I wonder who has more egg on their faces, the Phil Hughes folks or the Fire Uncle Charlie guy. I go Hughes, because at least the Fire Uncle Charlie guy say a World Championship in the end.

So what did the Yankees keep? Well, they kept Hughes, who went on to pitch 13 games (before injury) with a 6.62 ERA. Kennedy? 9 starts and an 8.17 ERA. Melky Cabrera? 129 games with a .249 ERA, 37 RBIs, 8 Home Runs and just 9 steals.

So why bring this up now? Well, as I mentioned in the links for today, the Yankees appear primed to trade Melky Cabrera to the Brewers for Mike Cameron. But more than a few people suggested that the Yankees trade Melky and sign Cameron...last year. So in the end, the Yankees have the centerfielder they could have had, and have both Hughes and Kennedy as huge question marks. Sure they got Sabathia...but who would you rather have, him or Santana? And at the same price no less (actually less for Santana).

Oh Yankees, when did you stop being so evil and become simply hilarious?

Mets Make Moves Daily "Linkin' Logs" (12/11/08)

Between yesterday's hijacked K-Rod signing headline (specifically by the Yankees and Sabathia) and today's massive J.J. Putz trade (which probably pissed off a few Fantasy keeper league players), the Mets are easily in much better shape then they were 365 days ago. You could make the argument that Billy Wagner to Francisco Rodriguez is a wash (when comparing last year's Wagner to this year's K-Rod, it seems reasonable, though K-Rod has the edge), but the addition of Putz and possibly the subtraction of Aaron Heilman clearly makes the Mets bullpen so (soooo) much better than last year.

Of course the one thing signing Rodriguez and trading for Putz doesn't do is A) Bring them a World Championship (at least not yet) and B) take the Phillies Championship away. It also shifts the pressure right back on the Mets...again. After the who "team to beat" issue two years ago and then the Johan Santana scenario this year, the Mets created a storm of pressure on themselves to win it (and probably win it all). This year, its just more of the same. That being said, the preservation of three wins over last year (all things holding equal) will certainly give the Mets a much better post season shot. You can point question marks at the end of the rotation: Can Pelfrey continue his success and what will we see out of Brandon Knight and Jonathan Niese? Or you can look at parts of the lineup: What can you expect from the right side of the infield? What can the corner outfielders produce?

The final question mark? What do you get from J.J. Putz. Obviously he has to pass a physical; so its fairly safe to assume he's healthy. But is he okay with being a setup man? Putz has essentially two years left on his deal (this year and a club option for next). So depending on how this plays out, they may be his only two years in Queens.

Oh well, just for shits and giggles.
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